Draft Intellectual Property Policy – Request for Comments

Draft Intellectual Property Policy – Request for Comments

April 14, 2018
I P policy


8 thoughts on “Draft Intellectual Property Policy – Request for Comments

  1. Joe Benevento says:

    This is a question rather than a comment. I write poetry and fiction and when in book form this material does receive a copyright. If I were to commence writing a novel, for example, and at some point received a summer grant, let’s say, for “research” from TSU, does TSU then claim ownership of the novel once published and any profits that pertain? (If the answer is yes, I’ll make sure I never apply for a summer research grant again.) And if the answer is no, just by being a faculty member who teaches people how to write novels and stories and poems, without any additional funding such as grants, does the U. claim any ownership of any of the works I produce while a faculty member here? I’d really appreciate the answers to these questions. Thank you.

  2. Zac Burden says:

    This is a matter I’ve never considered before in my work, but now I have questions.

    I am curious why students (in their work as students) and faculty (in their work as faculty) can have ownership or shared ownership with the University of the copyright for materials they create, but staff are not afforded that opportunity. Am I reading that correctly?

    I doubt anything I’ve created as a residence hall director will be used elsewhere or could be sold for profit. That being said, I do create a variety of training materials each year on a number of issues that would be applicable to other universities. That’s not exactly analogous to faculty creating content or course notes, but there are some related strands. Can I not claim ownership of that IP? Could I not claim the copyright on those materials and sell them to hall directors around the nation to use?

    I can remember one summer where I taught myself some very basic database skills and created a database that helps me manage student information in the hall. That resource was created created at home on my own time with my own resources. But under the proposed policy, I could not claim the copyright on that since my colleagues and I regularly use that database in the daily administration of our buildings.

    What if I were to accept a position at another university as a hall director. Under this policy, would I be permitted to take copies of the intellectual property I created and use them in my new position?

    There is a phenomenal website Greg Marshall built for Res Life that we use at our residence hall desks. We use it to track packages for students, check out equipment, count in and out of the till, and more. Does Greg have any ownership of that IP? Should he? To buy software that does all his website does would cost our department several thousand dollars a year, so Greg’s code has real value (much more than my training materials and a little database).

    Discussions of intellectual property seem to be (among other considerations) about promoting innovation. By limiting staff ownership or shared ownership of IP, are we constraining innovation?

    I also see why IP ownership of staff created materials needs limitations. We wouldn’t want to have to check copyright for every form created by offices here. The management alone of all those shared ownerships would be monstrous!

    Again, this is WELL OUTSIDE my normal wheelhouse. I recognize this is largely a matter of faculty research, invention, and publication. I appreciate the committee’s work and sharing it for everyone to review.

  3. Summer Pennell says:

    How will this policy be applied to work produced under sabbatical, since that is listed here as “substantial university resources?” Are faculty who publish books written while on research leave expected to share copyright with Truman? I’m not even sure that a publisher would agree to that, even if the faculty member would.

  4. Sue Limestall says:

    It seems under Definitions great care was taken to define faculty and staff separately, but both definitions include “University employee” within the wording. Thereafter the language in the various sections refers to faculty and university employees but it seems the word staff is never seen again. Perhaps I am just being too picky but some clarity or continuity of language might be helpful.

  5. Carolyn Chrisman says:

    I think some of the policy needs to be geared specifically towards commercializable products. I keep thinking that if a student or group of students create the next Facebook or Snapchat application, and the University has no claim to it–they are missing out. When some of the best and brightest of Missouri are brought to Truman, the University needs to be able to lay claim to things that were developed or keep an interest. That could help the university with funding down the road, etc.

  6. James Padfield says:

    I am concerned that the entire appeals process appears to be asking if the president agrees with the vice president. I would suggest that even if the president’s appeals decision is based solely on the merits it would still have the taint of the upper administration acting to back each other up — the faculty or staff member playing against a stacked deck — and may act to sour faculty/ staff trust in the administration.

  7. David Charles Goyette says:

    In the theatre industry, producing organizations rent the design, script, performance, direction, etc from the artists for the period of the production. Once the production ends, the remaining theatrical artifacts (script, designs, blocking, and other intellectual property) return to their creators for use in future productions. This policy upends industry standards and discourages faculty from engaging students in their own creative work.

  8. Aaron Fine says:

    Thank you for this opportunity to review the intellectual property policy proposed by the committee, and for your work on this matter. The Art faculty discussed this policy at a recent faculty meeting and several concerns came up, many of them potentially major – or minor – given that the devil will be in the details of how the document is interpreted and implemented (but that is part of the worry right there).

    My biggest concerns are procedural, and that I don’t have sufficient time at this, the busiest time of the academic year, to really study, discuss, and understand the policy. I do appreciate that I may entirely have gotten a hold of the wrong end of the stick. But the pressure was on to provide feedback so I have to give you this in the hopes that you will understand. I am lodging my opposition to the policy at this time and request significantly more time be spent looking into the issues that may arise for various constituencies.

    So, on procedure: The AAUP has a fairly nuanced statement about intellectual property, which respects that there are various parties with interests to be weighed, etc. I’ll paste that link below my signature. Though nuanced, it is clear the presumption is in favor of the inventor “One fundamental principle should be clear: inventions are owned initially by their inventors.” The statement also strongly recommends faculty governance “play a primary role in defining” these sorts of policies. Here’s that bit:
    Faculty members have a collective interest in how university inventions derived from academic research are managed. Through shared governance, they also have a responsibility to participate in the design of university protocols that set the norms, standards, and expectations under which faculty discoveries and inventions will be distributed, licensed, and commercialized. The faculty senate, or an equivalent governing body, should play a primary role in defining the policies and public-interest commitments that will guide university-wide management of inventions and other knowledge assets stemming from campus-based research. 

    So, a question is, when will this go before faculty governance? Or, maybe I missed the boat? I don’t know that this didn’t come from faculty governance, or wasn’t established years ago by faculty governance. I really am asking and not intending to point fingers.

    Next, clarification: We are picturing something none of us expects to happen anytime soon; one of our faculty creates something new and original and it makes a million dollars. Even though we consider this scenario highly unlikely, smaller financial returns are certainly possible, and for some, the principle is very deeply felt.

    We read the draft policy as stating that if faculty create something with Substantial Use of University resources then the University owns a piece of that. The first problem is being clear on what that support level is. The policy does say that it is things that go beyond what is normally supplied for an office, which is a start. It brings up the question of whether having a Mac in one’s office, with an Adobe software subscription, goes beyond what is normal. And it makes us think it very likely that use of a printing press, kiln, digital output device, etc. would count as substantial support.

    This has some pronounced problems – ones we could never endorse. We have a Department of 13 teacher scholars – expected as part of their employment to pursue work in their fields. For some of them that would naturally mean sitting in their office and typing up a book on a word doc and sending it to the publisher (so, not Substantial Use). For others however it requires walking across the hall into the studio and working with the equipment there – with students benefiting from that contact with a practicing teacher/creator. The inequity that the second person might face under this policy is troubling. It makes me ask why we would want to dis-incentivize faculty from pursuing their creative practice? Again looking to the AAUP Statement, these sorts of policies may in fact be contrary to University interests and create conflicts of interest to the detriment of the institution’s mission.

    So we did some very little research: We looked at the AAUP statement I already mentioned. One of us contacted a small handful of colleagues at other universities to ask if they had similar policies. We contacted the College Art Association to see if they had guidelines.

    We are getting the impression that this policy is not normal for Art faculty, but we haven’t had time to really find this out. We are concerned that the committee may not have done, could hardly have been able to do, this sort of research for every discipline on campus. Colleagues at other universities are actually shocked, considering the idea that any teaching artist’s work might not be their own as simply ludicrous. This includes colleagues in places that are research focused and provide generous support for their art faculty’s creative work, and it includes colleagues at places more similar to our own.

    The Executive Director and CEO of the College Art Association wrote me back and said they do not have guidelines for this sort of thing – that frankly it had not come up before. He says “Generally speaking an artist keeps control of his intellectual property unless it is a commission or work for hire by his employer, regardless of whether that employer is a college or any one else.” I would be worried if our policy went outside the norm for University policies. At a time when wages for Truman faculty are stagnant and workloads are increasing we should not be finding new ways to be less generous than the typical University.

    It is clear that the bulk of the policy is meant to govern courses developed for the University, online course content, and then scientific or technological inventions. The culture of creative practice, and the purposefully unplanned nature of the creative process make for very different notions of ownership. Possibly the policy should simply exempt creative products not conceived primarily as a business venture. Use of equipment already in place for curricular reasons could be quantified as a fee and only apply once an artist has recouped their own expenses on a given project. And profits made on works created during sabbatical could time out after two years and again only apply once an artist has recouped their own expenses on a given project. I am not saying that these solutions would work, as again they may simply be abnormally pecuniary in the academic art world, but these are among my efforts to square the circle.

    It is clear that some faculty will consider it as an insupportable imposition, just on principled grounds, if the policy means what it seems to mean.

    Thanks again for your attention,

    Aaron Fine
    Chair, Department of Art

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